‘We need local Arabic-speaking psychologists’

Dr Martin Baggaley, chief medical officer at the Maudsley Hospital Clinic Abu Dhabi, said the country does not need more mental health clinics but it needs to staff them with local expertise.

ABU DHABI // More Arabic-speaking psychologists and psychiatrists are needed in the UAE to provide mental healthcare services, according to one expert.

Dr Martin Baggaley, chief ­medical officer at the Maudsley Hospital Clinic Abu Dhabi, said the country did not need more clinics but it did need more staff with local expertise.

“It is not a sustainable strategy to provide mental health care by importing it from the UK or US,” Dr Baggaley said.

“We need local Arabic-speaking psychologists and psychiatrists.

“We may have to talk about some very intimate things and often there is a cultural issue which makes things difficult.

“We can have a translator but it is tricky to discuss things using a third party.

“It can lead to the patient being uncomfortable or details being lost in translation.

“I spoke to a local patient with sexual problems and apart from the fact that the language is different, it complicates things, because we need to bear in mind the sensitivities and talking to people without offending them.

“It is very helpful to have the same language and culture.”

It is vital to have the right mix of people with the right skills, and gender is vital, but communication is also key, he said.

“Patients may request an Arabic speaking male doctor, or a female one based on their need, which we should cater to,” Dr Baggaley said.


Published: April 6, 2017 04:00 AM